What drives you – Incentive or Inspiration?

Instantaneous response of majority would be that Inspiration is at the back of their drive; but in reality, it is Incentive!

Lot of people loves game of tambola (housie). If prizes of cash money are taken away, who would then like to play this game? Probably, none! So, is it liking for tambola or love for prizes?

I have seen lot of employees claiming that they are inspired to build their careers and competencies. But, that claim goes for a toss, if they don’t receive expected raise in salary and/or promotion. Fat variable pays or bonuses linked to performance have become a common practice with most companies across world. It is a key driver to achieve performance targets by employees, which is good! But, does that change the character and competence of an employee? It does not!

There are many powerful and pushy CEOs, under whose pressure employees lose sleep to strive and improve top and bottom lines of their companies! If employees perform, balance sheets of companies improve and so is shareholders’ value. That also results into increase in value of CEOs’ shareholding and bonuses!! It is difficult to figure out, how much interest in their own incentives encourages CEOs to push their employees or they do it out of their sacrosanct intentions or inspiration for good and growth of employees and company!

Few years back, I checked into a hotel of well-known international chain at Pittsburgh, USA. I was very pleased to see a slogan at reception – “Customer service is our inspiration”. It was a severe winter. In the middle of night, heating system of my room stopped working. Hotel front desk staff expressed their helplessness to repair it, as there was no technician available at that time nor they had any portable room heater. To my dismay, no vacant room was available. Next morning, I went to hotel general manager. He was very apologetic and tried to pacify me by waving off room charge for one night. I asked him is it how they are inspired by offering incentive to customers or do they really improve their services? He had no convincing answer to offer!

So, most of us tend to confuse drive due to incentive/s as inspiration!

How Incentive helps!

Incentive drives nearly whole world! Naturally, people see merits in incentives, some of which are:

  1. Incentive sets an objective target.
    It is the objective nature of incentive, which people are able to relate easily.
  2. Objective targets develop a desire to achieve.
    It is this desire, which creates a drive!
  3. It creates sense of purpose, though limited, and its direction.
    This brings great clarity in efforts required to get there.
  4. It promotes competitive spirit.
  5. It encourages team work, if target or incentive demands so.
  6. It induces hard work and faster learning.

How Incentive hurts!

But, drive by incentive has its down sides:

  1. Incentive is always aimed at you and hence, it creates paradigm of self-serving!
  2. When you get used to drive by incentive, then you lose self-drive.
    In practical life, all work cannot be incentive oriented. So, when incentive is absent, you tend to lay back or find your work monotonous.
  3. Incentive creates a limited purpose and hence your vision also becomes limited!
  4. For the risk of losing, you would be tempted to take known routes in your work and hence, your competencies would not broaden.
  5. If you lose incentive, despite your drive, your disappointment and disillusionment would be drastic and draining!
  6. It promotes total materialism!
  7. When you work for incentive, you have to brace for hope and despair, win and loss! Many times, quantum of incentive may not be commensurate with quantum of efforts required and you may then lose drive!!

How Inspiration changes the game!

There is copious confusion over what inspiration is! Many think it is motivation; some believe it is drive generated by emotions or incentives. It is none of these. Inspiration is a state of mind triggered by a singular thought to perform an activity or achieve a goal, which is beyond you. This state translates into unique focus and force with total dedication, decisiveness without any doubt, dithering or conflict of thoughts/interest!

Look at how inspiration makes a difference:

  1. Inspiration is a driving as well as a guiding force!
  2. It is impossible that inspiration can ever fail you to reach your goal!!
  3. It makes you supremely confident and conscious.
  4. Inspiration makes you highly innovative.
  5. It creates self-drive and makes you man of initiatives.
  6. Inspiration has positive influence on results of your efforts!
  7. When you are inspired, you don’t have to chase incentives; they chase you.
  8. As inspiration takes you “beyond you”, your vision becomes very broad.
  9. Your learning becomes very broad and solid.
  10. Inspiration invariably excels you in every endeavor you make!

World has plenty of motivational speakers and writers. But, the real need is for inspirational speakers and preachers. That would make our society very different and decent.

Inspiration is a true game changer! So, why not go for it and learn how to get inspired?


4 responses to “What drives you – Incentive or Inspiration?”

  1. Venuka Deshmukh Avatar
    Venuka Deshmukh

    Hello Sir,
    what you have written is absolutely right sir, but practically if you see, its the incentive that drives people. Its hardly handful of people who are driven by inspiration and such people reach heights. They become inspiration for others.
    However, majority of us are incentive driven. We do get driven by inspiration for few days but then it fades of after the time.
    Its the incentive, the materialistic incentive that keeps us moving and pushes us to achieve goals.


    1. Murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your precious and practical views!

      But, see it is in the name of being practical and real, most of us become unreal; mess up with our lives on the whole in the sense that we keep going in circles of successes and setbacks. As mentioned in the post, reality is that by being inspired, you get your incentive, if there is one, in any case and much more accomplishments and satisfaction. You make your future fundamentally solid!

      Do you feel that there is a real need for proper coaching or mentoring to help people secure their Best?

  2. Rudra Avatar

    Incentives inspire me!! 😉 I mean who doesn’t want to get rewarded??

    Yes, you’re correct in your example case. Lots of people try to drive others with ‘incentives’, which, to some extent, is fair I guess!! Everyone knows everyone loves a little bit of that extra money…

    You mentioned a lot of disadvantages of Incentives, but then, everything has its own drawbacks, isn’t it? I think its very person specific. You got to make-out how a particular person gets driven. Some people may get driven by money, some by recognition, by respect, by importance and so on… so it’s a big art how to drive people!! 🙂

    Regarding Inspiration, well, there has to be something that inspires you, in the first place. So what is it (or what it could be)?

    I was just jesting in my first sentence… truly, for me, its ‘recognition’ that drives me… 🙂

    1. Murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your considered comments!

      I respect your views. But, the fact is incentive and inspiration are as different as infatuation and love!! As stated in the post, inspiration does not require any means; all that you need is a singular thought to create a drive, whose force can’t be matched by any other kind of drive. Irony is knowing this fact that it can give all what incentive gives and much more, we drag our feet to learn what an inspiration really does!

      I appreciate you being candid what drives you. But, you might have learnt from one of the previous posts that what masses do is mostly a mistake! Why you want to be one of them?

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